Canton Repository

March 3, 2007

Union bill passed despite no vote from Regula

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON Ohio Rep. Ralph Regula was the only area lawmaker who voted against legislation this week that would make it easier to organize unions by depriving employers of the right to insist on secret ballot elections.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, said he opposed the bill because it "strips workers of the liberty to make their own decision, freely and anonymously, on whether to form a union."

The area's other lawmakers voted for the bill, which was approved Thursday by the Democratic controlled House, 241-185.

The yes votes included Democratic Reps. Zack Space of Dover, Tim Ryan of Niles, Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville and Betty Sutton of Copley.

Backers of the bill, a high priority for organized labor, said it would protect workers' rights to organize a union.

Currently, an employer can demand a secret ballot vote before a union is certified after the National Labor Relations Board certifies that more than half of eligible employees have signed cards authorizing a union.

The bill would allow union organizers to bypass an election if a majority of employees signed the cards favoring a union.

The legislation also would toughen penalties on employers who intimidate workers attempting to form a union.

Regula suggested the legislation promotes a double standard, since a secret ballot would still be required when workers sought to decertify a union.

The bill's prospects appear dim, since it did not get enough votes in the House to override a promised veto from President Bush.

It is also unclear whether Senate Democrats have the 60 votes they would need to vote on the legislation in the Senate, or the 67 votes they would require to override a presidential veto.